The family of a surfer, believed to have been taken by a massive great white shark off South Australia, have released a statement thanking those involved in the effort to try and help him.
Parts of a surfboard and wetsuit belonging to 55-year-old Tod Gendle have been recovered during the search efforts, but no remains have been found.
Mr Gendle was swimming near Granites Beach at Streaky Bay on Tuesday morning when witnesses saw a shark, believed to be up to 4.5m in length, attack him from the side.
On Wednesday afternoon part of his board and a piece of his wetsuit were recovered.
His family released a statement on Thursday, through South Australia Police.
“We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the police and volunteers for their dedicated efforts in the recent days,” the statement reads.
“We extend our appreciation to his friends and the local community of Streaky Bay, who had the chance to know Tod.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were with Tod on that day.
“During this time, we kindly ask for privacy for our family and friends.”
They say Mr Gendle was living his life in pursuit of the best waves Australian beaches had to offer.
Fellow surfer Jeff Schmucker, who raced out on a jetski to try to save the man, said he saw Mr Gendle being pulled underwater by the monster shark.
He did not see any remains of Mr Gendle’s body, but told 7 News he was able to retrieve part of his surfboard which had a large bite mark taken out of it.
Eyre and Western Police immediately launched a search with the assistance of Police Water Operations, PolAir, State Emergency Service and local volunteers.
The search ran into the evening and recommenced on Wednesday morning.
South Australia Police Superintendent Paul Bahr told 9 News on Wednesday that police had recovered “some small items”.
“They’re items not easily identifiable but we will continue the examination of those,” he said.
Locals said Mr Gendle had only moved to the area a short time ago and was not familiar with the surfing spot, which is known as a great white shark breeding ground.
Mr Schmucker said the incident had been devastating for the tight-knit community.
The attack comes just weeks after Pamela Cook was bitten by a shark at Beachport in the state’s southeast while swimming with local community group Beachport Sea Urchins and Slugs near the town’s jetty.
It also follows the death of teacher Simon Baccanello in May.
He was believed to have been killed by a shark while surfing at Walkers Rock near Ellison on South Australia‘s west coast.
The attack has become a case for South Australia’s coroner.